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Lloyd Herbert Hughes

Military

Lloyd Herbert Hughes Jr., better known to his friends, as "Pete," flew his fifth mission, as pilot of a B-24D Liberator bomber in an attack against the Axis oil refineries in Ploesti, Romania. He was killed August 1, 1943 when his plane was severely damaged from enemy fire prior to his reaching his target just north of Ploesti at Campina. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery and absolute determination to carry out his mission with no thought of his own safety no matter what the cost would be.

Hughes was born on July 12, 1921 in Alexandria, Rapides Parish, Louisiana, to Lloyd Herbert Hughes, Sr. and Mildred Mae Rainey. But, by 1923, his father was out of the picture, and his mother was working as the Post Mistress in Onalaska, Polk County, Texas. While still living there, Mildred married her second husband, John Raymond Jordan, Sr. in 1924.

Based on the children's births after this marriage, the family lived in Onalaska, Texas, in 1925, Oakhurst, Texas in 1927, and Huntsville, Texas in 1929. They lived in Trinity County, Texas at the time of the 1930 Census, and their last child together was born Josser and, Trinity County, Texas in 1931. According to the 1940 Census, the parents and five children were living in Refugio, Texas, in 1935. Hughes graduated from Refugio High School in 1939, attended Corpus Christi Junior College in Corpus Christi, and enrolled at Texas A&M to study petroleum engineering.

Shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, in January 1942, Hughes enlisted as an aviation cadet with the Army Air Forces in San Antonio, Texas. He trained at several bases in Texas and Oklahoma over the next year. In November 1942, he married Hazel Dean in San Antonio. Two days later in Lubbock, Hughes received his pilot's wings and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S Army Air Corps.

Hughes was assigned to the 8th Air Force, the 389th Heavy Bombardment Group, the "Sky Scorpions", and the 564th Bombing Squadron. Maj. Philip Ardery, the 564th's Squadron Commander, described Hughes in his book, "Bomber Pilot: A Memoir of World War II", as, "a laughing, youngish, handsome lad, and a much better than average pilot." Hughes was stationed at airfields in Utah, Texas, Arizona, Colorado and Nebraska, before being sent overseas in June 1943.

Lt. Hughes and the crew of the B-24D Liberator named by his copilot, Ole Kickapoo, flew to England in early June 1943, along with the rest of the 389th Bomb Group. At the end of the month, the bomb group was on the move again to Benghazi, Libya. They flew in four bombing missions that July, one over Greece and three over Italy. Hughes' and his crew's last raid was Operation Tidal Wave, the mission to destroy the Germans' oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania.

On Aug. 1, 1943, B-24 Liberators of the 9th Air Force, the 98th, the 44th, the 93rd, and the 376th Bombardment Groups, and Pete Hughes' 389th Bomb Group, left bases near Benghazi, Libya, to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Romania to bomb and destroy the German held oil refineries at Ploesti. Military officials expected a high number of casualties. Hughes' Squadron Commander Major Philip Ardery wrote what many of the American flyers thought : "The raid could almost be characterized as a suicide mission.", except they would have left out the word, "almost" !

Approaching his bombing target at the Steaua Romana refinery complex at Campina, Romania, German flak guns made two direct hits on Lt. Hughes' plane, Ole Kickapoo, blowing large holes in his left wing and one of the two 300 gallon aux gas tanks in his bomb bay. Gushers of raw gasoline began streaming from Hughes' left wing and fuselage, his top turret, and his waist gun windows and bomb bay. His close friend, Major Phillip Ardery, hoped Hughes would decide to climb, withdraw, and drop his bombs from a higher altitude because, ahead, they were about enter a "solid room of fire" above the already burning oil tanks and refineries in their flight path. But Hughes and his copilot, Lt. Ron Helder, drove Ole Kickapoo straight into the wall of fire and emerged from the high flames with their left wing and fuselage streaming long sheets of flame. Still, severely on fire, Hughes and Helder, staying with their squadron at low level, continued on to their target and released their bombs successfully, hitting the Steaua Romano refinery. Only, then, as Ardery watched, did Hughes attempt to slow his plane and make a crash landing in the Prahova River Valley. As Ole Kickapoo settled, the right wing hit the Prahova valley's riverbank. The plane cartwheeled and crashed into the ground in a ball of fire. Hughes, his copilot, and crew died in the crash, minus two gunners, who escaped from the burning crash, but survived with terrible burns.

Pete Hughes was awarded the Medal of Honor for his leadership, his skill, bravery, sacrifice, and, determination to carry out his mission. Lt. Ron Helder and the rest of the ten member crew received the nation's second highest award, Distinguished Service Crosses.

"Pete had given his life and the lives of his crew to carry out his assigned task," Ardery wrote in his memoir. "To the very end he gave the battle every ounce he had."

Eight months after he was killed in action, on April 18, 1944, Pete Hughes' Medal of Honor was presented to his wife, Hazel. Hughes was the first of seven Texas A&M alumni to receive the Medal of Honor for his actions during World War II. On March 30, 2009, his family loaned the medal to the Sanders Corps of Cadets Center on the Texas A&M campus.

Pete Hughes' official Medal of Honor citation reads: "For conspicuous gallantry in action and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. On August 1,1943, 2d Lt. Hughes served in the capacity of pilot of a heavy bombardment aircraft participating in a long and hazardous minimum altitude attack against the Axis oil refineries of Ploesti, Rumania, launched from the northern shores of Africa. Flying in the last formation to attack the target, he arrived in the target area after previous flights had thoroughly alerted the enemy defenses. Approaching the target through intense and accurate anti aircraft fire and dense balloon barrages at dangerously low altitude, his plane received several direct hits from both large and small caliber anti aircraft guns, which seriously damaged his aircraft, causing sheets of escaping gasoline to stream from the bomb bay and from the left wing. This damage was inflicted at a time prior to reaching the target when 2d Lt. Hughes could have made a forced landing in any of the grain fields readily available at that time. The target area was blazing with burning oil tanks and damaged refinery installations from which flames leaped high above the bombing level of the formation. With full knowledge of the consequences of entering this blazing inferno when his airplane was profusely leaking gasoline from two separate locations, 2d Lt. Hughes, motivated only by his high conception of duty, which called for the destruction of his assigned target at any cost, did not elect to make a forced landing or turn back from the attack. Instead, rather than jeopardize the formation and the success of the attack, he unhesitatingly entered the blazing area and dropped his bomb load with great precision. After successfully bombing the objective, his aircraft emerged from the conflagration with the left wing aflame. Only then did he attempt a forced landing, but because of the advanced stage of the fire enveloping his aircraft the plane crashed and was consumed. By 2d Lt. Hughes' heroic decision to complete his mission regardless of the consequences in utter disregard of his own life, and by his gallant and valorous execution of this decision, he has rendered a service to our country in the defeat of our enemies which will everlastingly be outstanding in the annals of our Nation's history."

Service

People

  • Philip Ardery

    Military | Major General | Pilot | 389th Bomb Group
    Silver Star/ 2 DFCs/ 4 Air Medals/ Croix de Guerre. ...

  • Bedford Bilby

    Military | Lieutenant Colonel | Co-Pilot | 389th Bomb Group
    Took part in Operation Tidal Wave, the raid on Ploesti on 1 August 1943, flying B-24 Liberator 42-40747. 3 November 1943 'The Captain & His Kids' B24D 41-24112 had an accident upon landing.

  • Robert Bird

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 389th Bomb Group
    Took part in Operation Tidal Wave, the raid on Ploesti on 1 August 1943, in B-24 Liberator 42-40773. ...

  • Malcolm Dalton

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Waist Gunner | 389th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 564BS, 839BG, 8AF USAAF. TDY to 9AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Ploesti raid in B-24 42-40753 'Ole Kickapoo' 1-Aug-43, Killed in Action (KIA). MACR 157. Awards: DFC, AM, PH.

  • Jack Dieterle

    Military | Lieutenant Colonel | B-24 Command Pilot | 389th Bomb Group
    After completing his training as a bomber pilot at Biggs Field in Texas, Major Jack Deiterle's 566th Bomb Squadron in the 389th Bomb Group, was established at Hethel Field in Norwich early in 1943. Dieterle was a command pilot on the B-24D, The Little...

  • Ronald Helder

    Military | Second Lieutenant | B-24D Co-Pilot | 389th Bomb Group
    2nd Lt. Ronald Lee Helder was a B-24 pilot in the 8th Air Force, the 389th Bomb Group, and the 564th Bombing Squadron in WWII. He flew as Co-pilot with his friend, Command Pilot Lt. Lloyd H. Hughes, in the B-24D Lt. Helder called, Ole Kickapoo,...

  • Thomas Hoff

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 389th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 564BS, 389BG, 8AF USAAF. TDY to 9AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Ploseti raid in B-24 42-40753 'Ole Kickapoo' 1-Aug-43; A/C downed by flak and subsequent fire. One of two survivors from the crash. Prisoner of War (POW) MACR 157 ...

  • Louis Jweid

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 389th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 566BS, 389BG, 8AF USAAF. Shot down 11-Apr-44 in B-24 42-73498. Prisoner of War (POW). MACR 3779. ...

  • John Kane

    Military | Colonel | B-24 Bomb Group Commanding Officer / B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    John Riley Kane was a colonel in the United States Army Air Corps and later the United States Air Force. He received the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Congressional Medal of Honor, in World War II, for his leadership, courage, and heroism for...

  • Louis Kase

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Radio Operator | 389th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 564BS, 389BG, 8AF USAAF. TDY to 9AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Ploesti raid in B-24 42-40753 'Ole Kickapoo' 1-Aug-43; Killed in Action (KIA) MACR 157 ...

Show more

Units served with

  • 8th Air Force

    8th Air Force


    Eighth Air Force Bomber Command became the Eighth Air Force on February 1944, it oversaw bombardment of strategic targets in Europe until 1945. ...

  • 389th Bomb Group

    389th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 389th Bomb Group, known in more familiar terms as "the Sky Scorpions", flew strategic bombing missions in B-24 Liberators from Hethel, England. They also sent detachments to join bases in North Africa at Benghazi No. 10, Libya, between 3 July 1943...

  • 564th Bomb Squadron

Aircraft

  • 41-11768 Kickapoo

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D Liberator, 41-11768, named, Kickapoo, was piloted by Lt. John S. Young from Dallas, Texas as part of the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bombing Squadron, which arrived in North Africa in early 1943. This airplane was...

  • 42-40629 The Scorpion

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D Liberator, 42-40629, The Scorpion, in the 8th Air Force, the 389th Bombardment Group, and the 565th Bomb Squadron, flew on Operation Tidal Wave, the bombing mission on the oil refineries, piloted by Lt. Kenneth M. Caldwell and Col. Jack Wood...

  • 42-40753

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D, 42-40753, was a Consolidated B-24D bomber from the 389th Bombardment Group, of the 8th Air Force, and the 564th Bomb Squadron from England. It's Command Pilot on Operation Tidal Wave, was 2nd Lt. Lloyd Hughes, and his crew. They flew on...

Missions

  • Operation Tidal Wave

    1 August 1943
    Operation TIDAL WAVE. B-24D Liberators attack the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. The bombers flew low to avoid radar detection and dropped time delayed bombs. Out of the 177 B-24s that took part in the raid 167 managed to attack their targets. 57...

Associated Place

  • Hethel

    Military site : airfield
    Construction of Hethel airfield began in 1941, and was finished in late 1942. The number of hardstandings was increased from the planned 36 to 50 in 1942, in order to accommodate a full heavy bomb group. The 320th Bomb Group occupied the base for ten...

  • Norwich

    Military site : non-airfield

  • Benina

    Military site : airfield

  • Mellaha

    Military site : airfield

  • Berca

    Military site : airfield

  • Lete

    Military site : airfield

Events

Event Location Date
Born Alexandria, Louisiana 12 July 1921

Son of Lloyd Herbert Hughes, Sr. and Mildred Mae Rainey.

Died Ploiești, Romania 1 August 1943

Pilot Killed in Action (KIA) during Ploesti raid, 1 August 1943. Bombed target and held formation after aircraft B-24 #42-40753 'Ole Kickapoo' had been set on fire and gravely damaged.

Medal of Honor Citation 26 February 1944

For conspicuous gallantry in action and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. On August 1943, 2d Lt. Hughes served in the capacity of pilot of a heavy bombardment aircraft participating in a long and hazardous minimum-altitude attack against the Axis oil refineries of Ploesti, Rumania, launched from the northern shores of Africa. Flying in the last formation to attack the target, he arrived in the target area after previous flights had thoroughly alerted the enemy defenses. Approaching the target through intense and accurate antiaircraft fire and dense balloon barrages at dangerously low altitude, his plane received several direct hits from both large and small caliber antiaircraft guns which seriously damaged his aircraft, causing sheets of escaping gasoline to stream from the bomb bay and from the left wing. This damage was inflicted at a time prior to reaching the target when 2d Lt. Hughes could have made a forced landing in any of the grain fields readily available at that time. The target area was blazing with burning oil tanks and damaged refinery installations from which flames leaped high above the bombing level of the formation. With full knowledge of the consequences of entering this blazing inferno when his airplane was profusely leaking gasoline in two separate locations, 2d Lt. Hughes, motivated only by his high conception of duty which called for the destruction of his assigned target at any cost, did not elect to make a forced landing or turn back from the attack. Instead, rather than jeopardize the formation and the success of the attack, he unhesitatingly entered the blazing area and dropped his bomb load with great precision. After successfully bombing the objective, his aircraft emerged from the conflagration with the left wing aflame. Only then did he attempt a forced landing, but because of the advanced stage of the fire enveloping his aircraft the plane crashed and was consumed. By 2d Lt. Hughes' heroic decision to complete his mission regardless of the consequences in utter disregard of his own life, and by his gallant and valorous execution of this decision, he has rendered a service to our country in the defeat of our enemies which will everlastingly be outstanding in the annals of our Nation's history.

Buried Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery San Antonio, Bexar County, TX 1948

Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery
San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
10 October 2021 06:53:08 Kickapoo Changes to place associations
Sources

Added details, names, places. - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
10 October 2021 06:46:55 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

"Bomber Pilot: A Memoir of World War II" - Phillip Ardery

Date Contributor Update
03 September 2021 20:43:50 Kickapoo Changes to nickname, biography and awards
Sources

Spelling, punctuation. - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
18 May 2021 19:04:23 jmoore43 Changes to biography
Sources

Added punctuation in the "Summary biography" to aid clarity.

Date Contributor Update
24 February 2021 08:44:54 Rajordan Changes to biography and events
Sources

1923 (postal records) mother was a post mistress in Onalaska, Polk County, Texas.
1925 (birth certificate) half brother born in Onalaska, Polk County, Texas.
1927 (birth certificate) half brother born in Oakhurst, San Jacinto County, Texas.
1929 (birth certificate) half brother born in Huntsville, Walker County, Texas.
1930 (1930 Census) lived in Trinity County, Texas.
1931 (birth certificate) half brother born in Josserand, Trinity County, Texas.
1935 (1940 Census) lived in Refugio, Refugio County, Texas.

Date Contributor Update
21 February 2021 23:48:34 Kickapoo Changes to person associations
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
05 January 2021 01:22:30 Kickapoo Changes to biography and events
Sources

Lloyd Herbert Hughes - Wikipedia

Date Contributor Update
16 December 2020 09:59:13 Al_Skiff Changes to events
Sources

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/32801480/lloyd-herbert-hughes

Date Contributor Update
05 December 2020 09:37:23 Kickapoo Changes to role
Sources

Ploesti The Great Ground-Air Battle of 1 August 1943 - James Dugan & Carroll Stewart ---- Bomber Pilot - Gen. Philip P. Ardery

Date Contributor Update
03 December 2020 03:12:45 Kickapoo Changes to person associations
Sources

Ploesti The Great Ground-Air battle of 1 August 1943 - James Dugan & Carroll Stewart ---- Bomber Pilot - Gen. Philip P. Ardery

Date Contributor Update
03 December 2020 03:07:15 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Ploesti The Great Ground-Air battle of 1 August 1943 - James Dugan & Carroll Stewart ---- Bomber Pilot - Gen. Philip P. Ardery

Date Contributor Update
27 November 2020 08:43:39 Kickapoo Changes to biography and person associations
Sources

Ploesti The Great Ground-Air battle of 1 August 1943 - James Dugan & Carroll Stewart

Date Contributor Update
26 November 2020 00:44:59 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Lloyd H. Hughes - Pilot - Wikipedia Ploesti The Great Ground-Air Battle of 1 August 1943 - James dugan & Carroll Stewart

Date Contributor Update
25 November 2020 05:11:23 Kickapoo Changes to media associations
Sources

Ploesti The Great Ground-Air Battle of 1 August 1943 -- James Dugan & Carroll Stewart

Date Contributor Update
25 November 2020 04:42:49 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Ploesti The Great Ground-Air Battle of 1 August 1943 -- James Dugan & Carroll Stewart

Date Contributor Update
22 November 2020 13:08:37 Kickapoo Changes to awards
Sources

Lloyd Herbert Hughes - Wikipedia

Date Contributor Update
10 November 2020 18:44:36 Kickapoo Changes to nickname, biography, person associations, place associations and aircraft associations
Sources

Ploesti The Great Ground-Air Battle of 1 August 1943 -- James Dugan & Carroll Stewart

Date Contributor Update
10 November 2020 18:16:58 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Ploesti The Great Ground-Air Battle of 1 August 1943 -- James Dugan & Carroll Stewart

Date Contributor Update
23 October 2019 13:35:54 general ira snapsorter Changes to biography, events and person associations
Sources

Ploesti Sortie Reports, 389th Bomb Group

Date Contributor Update
23 January 2019 04:01:23 Dieterle Changes to biography and events
Sources

U.S. Army Center of History > Medal of Honor > World War II (Recipients G-L) > HUGHES, LLOYD H. (https://history.army.mil/html/moh/wwII-g-l.html#HUGHES).

Date Contributor Update
15 July 2016 23:03:24 Rajordan Changes to role
Sources

Statement of Military Service: http://www.rajordan.com/pete/19590529-service.html

Date Contributor Update
15 July 2016 23:02:30 Rajordan Changes to middlename
Sources

Grave marker: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=32801480

Date Contributor Update
18 April 2015 12:05:38 Al_Skiff Changes to nickname, service number, biography, awards, events, unit associations and aircraft associations
Sources

AAM Database

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:19:01 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / won Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery during Ploesti raid.  Citation MACR 157

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